A Seattle remodel for modern living and period charm
This couple knew the house on Capitol Hill should be theirs the night they first saw it. Then they set about making it their own, and using JAS Design Build to do it.
WHERE OTHER people saw dark oak cabinetry, blue Formica counters and burgundy moldings, Barbara Herrington saw enormous leaded-glass tulip-motif windows, streaming sunshine and an extra half lot. The large 1907 home hadn't been worked on in decades, and Herrington loved that so many period details remained, and that previous improvements, like a drop ceiling in the kitchen, were not permanent.
The Herringtons made an offer on it the night they first saw it, and to this day they meet people who were mulling it over while the Herringtons snapped up their home in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighbrhood.
Barbara and her husband, Doug, had done a very simple renovation on a previous home, and Barbara says the best lesson they learned after living in that home for eight years was that they should have "just bitten the bullet" and renovated it the way they'd really wanted to. They could have enjoyed it while they lived there and would have made their money back.
This time, Barbara began researching and interviewing architects and contractors right away. She'd been referred to JAS Design Build by a number of happy clients; she says one look at the projects on their website, www.jasdesignbuild.com, and she knew they'd understand her vision: To modernize the house and maximize the qualities that first attracted her to it — the light, the space and the lot — without losing any of the period details or charm.
JAS managed to achieve an easy, modern, circular flow by widening doorways, moving walls just slightly and adding built-ins. The Herringtons got all the benefits of a great room without losing the old-fashioned appeal of having individual rooms. New built-ins designed to look like they've always been there delineate space and provide generous storage.
By removing back stairs, they were able to add a powder room and coat closet. A door to the basement was also removed, and Doug suggested a small mudroom on the landing below. The Herringtons' three children come in the side door, drop off their muddy shoes, wet raincoats and school books, leaving the front hall neat and clean.
Once the drop ceiling in the kitchen was removed, even Barbara was amazed at the difference. The ceiling is 12 feet high, and light streams in from the garden on the south side of the house, through the dining room and family room and into the bright kitchen.
The old powder room in the corner of the kitchen was removed, and in its place is a sunny built-in eating area that was one of Barbara's priorities. "We eat dinner here every night together, often breakfast and lunch, too. The kids do their homework here, we do everything here." The family computer lives a few feet away in the family room, and a new gas fireplace there makes Barbara smile. "The kids come down, turn it on, and wake up around it."
On the second floor, two bedrooms remain as they were. The rest of the floor was reconfigured to create a play area for the kids as well as a laundry room and a master suite.
In the 1940s, boarders lived on the third floor. The Herringtons removed a door at the bottom of the stairs, and today their eldest daughter enjoys an airy room tucked under the eaves, sharing her bathroom with her grandmother when she comes to stay in her own cozy room across the hall.
Kim Clements of JAS Design Build notes that the Herringtons' goal was to maintain the integrity of the old house while adapting it to a modern pattern of living. While the result is "not completely historically accurate," says Clements, "it feels right, and believable."
Leora Y. Bloom writes about beautiful homes in and around Seattle. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
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